Friday, May 12, 2006

it's natural...

Growing up, a lot of things came easy to me - eating an entire box of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls, jumping really far off of the swings, getting off of the teeter-totter when someone I didn't like was at the top, singing, burping the alphabet...

For college, I picked a major that came easy to me - music. I spent time in places where things felt natural (church, to name one)... and I've tried, and failed, at things that I thought I was a natural at, but turned out not to be.

Take the violin playing - since I was *very* young... I was never going to be the best at it... always trying to live up to my mom's "legend" (she was one of the best fiddle players ever - Doug Kershaw even asked her to join his band)
or
Manual labor.

And now my newest "doesn't come natural to me" hobby - stand-up comedy.

For the past 4 weeks I've been in a Stand-up Comedy Workshop. And, until today, I was convinced this was something else I thought would be "natural", but would end up, like many other things, a failure.

I've had a very hard time trying NOT to be funny (the core of any stand-up act is REAL emotion and REAL situations that aren't funny, on their own). Then, you've got to spend a GREAT deal of time writing. My ADD makes this difficult - ok, ADD and my laziness.

AND I've needed to do more rehearsing than I've ever had to do for music or theatre event.

Then you have to edit, edit, edit.

And just when you think you found the "aha!" moment - and your comedy "bit" becomes something you are proud of - you can fall flat when an audience doesn't respond.

My only audience, at least for the next few weeks - are a group of 7 other comedy wannabes and the instructor.

Getting up in front of the class today - God, I love to perform (not the first time I've realized this, but it was a new infusion of the excitement). I stood on the stage in the bright lights - a few inches away from the microphone - and took a deep breath, filling my lungs with the smell of wet, stinky feet and stale cigarette smoke... and this feeling overcame me...

I love to perform. I love it. It's what I want to do forever and ever and ever. This is what I'm meant to do.

I went through my 3 under-rehearsed bits, and I believe I did what they call in comedy as "killing" the group. I killed. People consistency laughed - and that's really something with a group that has become very analytical about comedy (I don't laugh as much anymore when I watch stand-up - I'm too busy trying to find the top, premise, punchlines, tags, etc)...

A number of my classmates did critiques - and most of them told me how funny I was - and how great I am at this.

The moment, though - that really made me *believe* I'm not just a fat, ugly loser who is chasing yet another unattainable dream - doing something that feels unnatural and forced - was when the instructor (a man who's been in comedy MANY years, has MANY great performing accomplishments, has shared the stage with greats like Seinfeld, etc) said - "Amelia, you've really got something special. You are one of the most naturally talented performers I've ever seen in my life."

Wow.

And I was on a high - for about an hour - till the rub showed up... My lifelong dream of making it as a singer wasn't going to happen. Maybe replaced with another performance path - but this was definitely a wake up call.

Singing is the most natural thing I do. I really believe I'm better than about 95% of singers out there. I never had to work hard at it. It's the thing I've thought most about - what I wake up thinking about, the last thing I think about before falling asleep.

I guess I could try to make myself believe I could do both - but who really would take a comedian turned serious musician, well, seriously? I mean J-Lo will always be a DANCER first - no one takes her singing career seriously - there aren't even many folks who take her acting career seriously.

So, I guess I need to stop throwing the pity party here... and focus my efforts onto something that isn't necessarily "natural" but is something - when I put in the work - I seem to be very, very good at.
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8 comments:

Babs said...

I am so friggin' happy for you! I KNEW you were going to rock at this, I really did. It's a talent so few people have naturally. I'd be so proud...well, I am.

So...when can we see you perform? :)

Average Jane said...

Babs - the showcase will be at the Addison Improv somewhere around the 2nd week of June. I don't have the exact date yet - but those who'd like to see the show, I'll have some 2-for-one price tickets in a couple weeks.

Details will follow.

Anonymous said...

wish i could be there to see the show! i'm sure you're gonna kill 'em. and i too believe you have an amazing voice...it is angelic!..honestly! don't give up on singing...i'm hoping you'll try out for AI again. ven though your first experience sucked..you should really give it another try.

try to get someone to tape your performance so i can see it too :-D

jenn

Canticles said...

Sweet!!! And you know, the success you've really worked for tastes even sweeter than the success that came to you naturally. :D

I can't wait to see the showcase!

Dr. Zoom said...

If you can make any kind of a living from performing in any respect, you are to be envied. I wish I could see you.

Average Jane said...

For those of you unable to attend - I will be able to get a recording of the showcase. Hopefully, I have the technology to rip it to the web.

Betsie said...

I never doubted you would rock at stand up. You always make me feel right at home with your witty nature. Still envy you for knowing Dean. :P I also happen to know that you are a most talented singer. I don't know if it helps at all, but no matter with AI says you do effect people with your voice in a most wonderful way. Your one of the best people I know!!!

Tish Grier said...

I have *so* been where you're at, sweetie! Nothing like that moment when you finally let go of that one dream, that *one* single thing you were so sure you *thought* you were, and allowed yourself to become just the person you're probably meant to be....

on, and the first paragraph of this post...a killer :-)